Veteran THCB readers shouldn’t need too much reminding about this, so I’ll spare you the blow by blow documented here over the years. Here’s the bottom line. Any time you do a trans-national study on health care, you find that the U.S. spends way too much and gets way too little in terms of quality and outcomes.
In doing these studies the Commonwealth Fund has become the bete noir of the political right.
Why? Well it starts with data first and then draws conclusions, rather than the opposite approach followed by most on the right. And whatever way you look at the data they’ve produced over the years, it’s clear that things aren’t going well.
This year is the second annual national scorecard on delivering health care to reduce the number of preventable deaths. Commonwealth calls this its study of high performing health care systems. Yup, we haven’t got one.
From the NY Times write up two things are apparent. First, it’s hard to do national campaigns where we have no national system and no realistic way of national enforcement. Second, as we start with a huge group of uninsured and even more people who are only marginally in the system with significant and untreated health problems, we’re always playing catch up. Everyone else is doing better, and we’re staying where we are.
By the way, Harris Interactive which has been involved in lots of the Commonwealth work, got some press earlier this week by showing that Americans rated their health care system much worse and in greater need of serious reform than did citizens from ten other countries.
Of course, my "favorite lobbyist" can explain the extra costs of insurance administration here versus elsewhere. Really!
Karen Ignagni, the chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, argues that much of the higher administrative costs stem from the additional services provided by United States insurers, like disease management programs, and the burdensome regulatory and compliance costs of doing business in 50 states.
That’s right, disease management programs are adopted by insurers because they increase health care costs!It’s hard to know what to say in response, other than to suggest that this wasn’t how it was meant to be.
Meanwhile, although the NY Times says no one will defend the current system (hence only finding Ignagni to deliver half a quote) plenty of people continue to get rich off it. So changing it remains very very difficult. As Brian Klepper excellently points out elsewhere on THCB today.